A Travellerspoint blog

Chapter 3

My Surprise trip to Egypt

semi-overcast 18 °C

Egypt

When my boss looked up from his computer and asked if I wanted to go to Egypt I thought he was joking.

They needed someone to go make sure their 8,000 metric tons of cement was getting on the ship and I suppose since I wasn't doing anything important, I was the guy.

I got a cash advance from the treasurer for two thousand dollars and told the human resources guy to book me a ticket. A week later I was flying to Cairo via Addis Abeba.

There I met with our freight company manager and our representative from the Emirates office, a slippery Peruvian gentleman with a practiced sound to his speech by the name of Bonilla. They had already booked a room.

On my first day I was in a meeting all day and didn't get a chance to go to Giza until after dark. I was driven by Yasser the taxi driver that Bonilla used on his last visit.

There they set up a light show to attract tourists with the tale of the old pyramids. Lighting the pyramids from the front just made them look small like a theatre stage. I promised myself I'd have to go back there during the day.

For the next four days I was in the port of Adabeya, near Suez city on the Red Sea. Adabeya is an hour away from Cairo where the desert meets the water. There are no hotels, no villages...my job was watching the ship load with a million dollars' worth of our cement. The ship had a Panamanian flag but an all-Egyptian crew. I slept in one of the cabins in my day clothes and ate with the crew.

When I got back I caught a weekend so I called my new friend Yasser and he spent the day showing me Cairo. I did all the touristy stuff in rapid succession, as if to get it out of the way. First there was Giza, finally in the day I could see that the pyramids were, in fact quite large. I could also see, as I'd been warned, that the Pyramids are next to the city.
Facing the sphynx head-on all you see is the pyramids and the desert. If you turn 180 degrees you see the city of Giza, which is just like another zone of busy Cairo.

After Giza was the Cairo Museum to see the mummies, I saw them, there they were; old rotting corpses of ancient kings and queens. You have to pay a separate admission to see these.

Next we went to some coptic churches and mosques and the Fortress of Sal el Hadin where they created a military museum.

The following day I visited Alexandria, again with Yasser who clearly knew Cairo better. It was the same rhythm, though. IT felt like I was marking tourist destinations off a checklist. I promised never to travel like that again if I could avoid it. Still it was the best way to cram as much as I could into the two days that I had free and when the trip is for business, paid by the company, you can't really complain too much.

I would like to do a honest to god trip to Egypt where I can explore for more than two days. I want to see Luxor and Aswan and Sharm el Sheikh.

But this wasn't a bad first run.

Posted by Leoneves 11.03.2008 03:24 Archived in Egypt Tagged business_travel Comments (0)

Chapter 2

Djibouti

sunny 40 °C

Djibouti is a forgotten place. Located in North Africa, on the Red Sea it is a country that represents what is left over from the surrounding countries. The locals are a strange blend of Somali, Ethiopian, and something else. They speak at least four languages, often at the same time and have a curious aptitude for acquiring additional languages. They are oddly shapen with large bottoms, small hands, and thin necks. They are not black like in some parts of Africa…they are pale brown, with stringy hair. This is a Muslim country. Some of our people think that the country is peaceful and free of crime as a result of Islamic influence. It could also be because people are unmotivated and unaccustomed to taking initiative. Doing crime takes an effort. It is easier to beg. War takes effort too and usually you need people who want to change their country to try to take over…that appears beyond the capacity of these people.

The French use this place as a military base. You can see the soldiers in the night clubs with the underage prostitutes. This used to be their colony but now they just hang out here. They still own this place in practice but the locals think they are independent. This country produces nothing. The major exports are khat leaves grown in Ethiopia and camels.

Posted by Leoneves 03:19 Archived in Djibouti Tagged business_travel Comments (0)

Chapter 1

My Decision

Some people love their jobs. I am not one of them. I am here because somewhere in my life I forgot to take a decision, like a driver who fell asleep and accidentally stayed on a highway that he should have exited. In college I majored in business…maybe because it was both easy and respectable. I understood that it would be easy to make money with my degree but I didn’t know that I wouldn’t be happy. I didn’t want to be troubled with finding a job after college I didn’t object when a door open and I was eased into some big construction firm I had contacts in. It felt so natural, I already knew all the top managers and I’d be given infinite opportunities. There would be plenty of interesting locations to work in. The only clear thought in my mind was that I wanted to travel and see the world so that seemed convenient.

I knew about many projects so I asked to go to the United Arab Emirates. The office was in Abu Dhabi, as metropolitan as Dubai, if not as exciting. My wish was not exactly denied. Unfortunately there were no projects going on in Abu Dhabi so I’d be helping out in Djibouti for a couple of months in preparation for a project that we were about to get.

I have been here for over seven months. My social life, outside of work is officially gone. I have no idea what my friends are doing back home and I am getting further and further away from my family. My routine is all I have. It consists of getting up in the morning, going to work, then coming home. In other words, if I am not working I am eating or sleeping. I don’t know how much longer I will be here. The last time I called Abu Dhabi they were about to get a contract. That was weeks ago…I heard they lost that contract. Nobody called to let me know. I sometimes hope that it is not too late to go back to school. I have a new wish to study photography or some other art, as I did in high school when I became uninterested and decided to quit. There is a gnawing feeling that I am not doing what I am supposed to do.

Posted by Leoneves 03:12 Archived in Djibouti Comments (0)

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